I imagine that you, like me are deeply saddened and disturbed by the murder of yet another innocent Black man at the hands of the police. As Tyre was being brutally beaten, he called out for his mother. He was on his way home which was nearby. All five of these officers were Black men. The assumption that white supremacy is the underlying problem in policing can no longer be argued. The American Bar Association has confirmed that evidence of injustice is overwhelming and is urging lawyers to help fight for equitable justice. America has a systemic problem in a judicial system that is historically rooted in a deeply ingrained, pervasive and ongoing racism.
George Floyd’s death at the hands of the police was a wake-up call and seemed to be a transformative moment, but perhaps the weight of the trauma, grief, and anxiety of the past three years has numbed us into complacency. It is incomprehensible to imagine a white man being beaten to death during a traffic stop, but for Blacks a traffic stop is terrifying.
Charles Blow addresses this issue in his NY Times article, titled “Tyre Nichols’ Death Is America’s Shame” in which he argues that we have become desensitized to the violence done to Black people because of “its sheer volume.” He points out “police killings of American citizens didn’t decrease after the killing of George Floyd; they increased.” It’s a powerful and compelling call to action.
Unitarian Universalists, along with other people of many other faith traditions showed up during the Civil Rights Movement. In 1965, UU minister, Rev. James Reeb was beaten to death by segregationists in Selma, Alabama, and the men tried for his murder were acquitted by an all-white jury. UU layperson, Viola Liuzzo joined the movement after Bloody Sunday and three weeks later was shot twice in the head near Selma by members of the Ku Klux Klan. We can honor their legacy by standing up and fighting racial injustice, and we can begin by doing our own work of educating ourselves about the root causes of this pervasive ongoing structural racism.
UUA President Susan Frederick Gray said this about Tyre Nichols murder, “As UUs, we believe in justice, equity, and inclusion as a matter of faith and Principle. As such, we are compelled to work towards a society where these Principles are more than concepts but lived realities. This Sunday, February 5 at 9:30 and 12:30, there will be 8th Principle discussion groups and is an opportunity to learn about why adopting the 8th Principle is an important step towards this goal. UU Asheville will be voting to adopt it at the annual meeting. We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote; journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”
See you in church,
Rev. Cathy Harrington, Interim Lead Minister